The legalities of the digital signature

March 2019 Editor's Choice, Cyber Security, Security Services & Risk Management

Digitalisation and digital transformation have seen a significant organisational shift from paper-based processes and procedures. Most organisations have adopted alternative methodologies for signing documents to ensure auditable document trails while minimising the costs associated with paper-based transactions and the risks of fraud and identity theft. However, few recognise the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature – a critical difference that can have an impact on the legalities and security of any document trail.

Rian Schoeman
Rian Schoeman

“The electronic signature is usually defined as an identifying mark that can be anything from a photograph or a scan of a signature to a squiggle made on a mobile phone or tablet,” explains Adv Rian Schoeman, head of Legal, LAWtrust, an Etion company. “It isn’t secure. In fact, the electronic signature is at risk of fraud as it is easy to copy, move and adjust. This is particularly true of poorly executed signatures that are not easily identifiable.”

To ensure deeper security, particularly with regards to highly sensitive or complex records and contracts, digital signatures are more efficient and reliable. A digital signature ensures an auditable, provable trail that can be clearly linked to a specific person and identity. Usually, a digital signature can only be used once the individual has undergone a process of identity verification which assures all parties that the right person has signed the right documentation.

“When you open a digitally signed document with a solution such as Adobe PDF reader, selecting the signature will reveal the digital certificate that outlines the individuals name, surname, and other specified identifying factors such as an email address,” says Schoeman. “These signatures are certified and legally binding.”

An electronic signature, paper-based signature, photograph or email signature may have legal weight, but proving that the person’s intention was to be bound by that signature is an involved, complex process. A digital signature does not face the same challenge. The identify verification process ensures that much of this evidence is built into the signature. While the legal process will require that the organisation prove who made the signature, in the event of a query, the process is simplified by the digital trail and embedded forensic evidence.

“To be completely assured of digital signature security, South Africa’s Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) recognises the concept of an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES),” adds Schoeman. “This is similar to a digital signature in that it is based on a digital certificate, but it requires face-to-face verification. This ensures the person receiving the document that the signer (signatory) of the document has been verified in person.”

When a signature is disputed, it is the person who queries the signature who has to prove that it is invalid. For large organisations that enter into numerous contract agreements, this is a valuable tool as it assures them of a measure of security when signing agreements.

“To provide both enterprise and its legal department with peace of mind, it is recommended that all digital contracts or agreements are signed using a digital signature,” concludes Schoeman. “This will not only alleviate unnecessary issues that could occur further down the line but will provide all parties with the right levels of assurance from the outset.”

For more information go to http://www.etion.co.za/





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

A platform approach to innovation and value
September 2019, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure
Moving to the platform model of doing business holds tremendous advantages for end users and smaller developers, but also for the whole technology supply chain.

Read more...
Open does not always mean easy integration
September 2019, VERACITECH, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Customers who opt for best-of-breed solutions will have to rely on their integrators to develop customised integrated solutions for them.

Read more...
The impact of AI on the surveillance industry
September 2019, G4S South Africa, Hikvision South Africa, Myertal Tactical Security, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
What the impact of AI will be on companies, the services and solutions they supply, as well as on the jobs people do.

Read more...
Video analytics and AI
September 2019, Axis Communications SA, Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa , Hikvision South Africa, Technews Publishing, Dahua Technology South Africa , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver real benefits in the world of video analytics and many companies are already delivering customer benefits.

Read more...
Cloudy with a chance of AI
September 2019 , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
One local company has developed an AI solution that can be added to existing surveillance installations, offering 24-hour intelligence.

Read more...
Security surveillance architecture
September 2019, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
IP video surveillance solutions typically have two distinctive surveillance architectures: centralised and distributed. Dean Coleman explains the difference.

Read more...
Selecting the right surveillance storage
September 2019, Capsule Technologies, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, IT infrastructure
Storage is an integral part of a surveillance installation and the solution chosen can make or break the success of your project.

Read more...
Cyber-securing your surveillance infrastructure
September 2019, Genetec, Hikvision South Africa , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Cyber Security
When it comes to cybersecurity, understanding the risks and the solutions as well as engaging in open communication helps everyone.

Read more...
Speak up with audio
September 2019, Axis Communications SA , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Video surveillance systems are traditionally used as forensic tools, but what if you can use your surveillance system to proactively deter incidents before they happen?

Read more...
Why your video management system needs a drone
September 2019 , Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions
What was once just science fiction, along with artificial intelligence and driverless cars, surveillance drones are now very real and an affordable and effective video surveillance option.

Read more...